Monday, November 16, 2009

Ocular Cancer - A Transformers 2 review

Like most things from the 80's, it seemed pretty awesome at the time. Nostalgia lets us strap a large near-opaque block to our eyes, shielding our present perspectives from the harsh reality: things weren't really that much better in the old days. That said, Transformers were a really awesome little toy, and will forever stand as such. The original Generation 1 show however... knew it's target audience, and gave them exactly what they wanted, and our little 6-14 year old minds lapped it up. With this in mind, Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen, is an incredibly faithful continuation of this vision. It nets everything a strapping young lad on the cusp of adulthood might enjoy, and tosses it on screen like so much flapping fish, hoping that the results will somehow create a coherent piece of action entertainment. However, all this has resulted in is a screen covered in scales and fish slime that slowly sinks into the audience pit, 'til there is no escape. It smells bad, too.

Now, naturally, no one's going to go into this movie expecting a Lean-esque cinematic masterpiece. We're here to watch giant robots kick the shit out of each other with gay abandon, and God Dammit, there's nothing wrong with that. Pure, mindless action is a cornerstone of cinema, and the spectacle that the cinema experience can present is second to none. And, naturally, the effects are top notch, with the same incredibly detailed androids that prevailed in the first film. What is required for a film like this to fulfil its obligation to the audience is very simple: make it fast, make it exciting, make it funny, make it cool. It's a fairly simple formula to follow, and going into an action film expecting mindless fun should be a simple equation. Of course, if I flatter myself to think that you, good reader, have taken note of the title of this review, it would seem that I am less than satisfied with the results of this cinematic experience. What, then, does Transformers 2 do wrong?

Okay. The action is... impressive, to a point. However, it is chaotic, confusing, and not remotely engaging. It's a good example of CGI work... a great one, in fact, just for the sheer amount of movement going on all at once. Sparks fly, fluid sprays, paint chips, and cybernetic eyes go flying in all directions. It's going to make any CG aficionado squirt all sorts of happy fluids over their unlucky companions, but unfortunately, it's clear that nothing else in the film was given more than a cursory glance, before being palmed off to a chimpanzee with a learning disability for quality control. And that is the real problem with this film. Yes, this film is clearly meant for an extremely specific demographic. However, everyone outside of that, or people who are unable to empathize with the mindset of a 13-year old boy with a re-bar stuck through his brain, are going to be left wanting.

Simply put, this film is dreadfully, inescapably juvenile, and will not let you enjoy the spectacle for one second without something reminding you of this fact. And not juvenile in the way that, say, Harry Potter is - which is clearly aimed at a younger market, but doesn't talk down to it's audience. No, this is something clearly trying to appeal to the idiot child, fingers sticky with their own semen (and only semen, if we're lucky), who doesn't know what a character is and doesn't care, who thinks that women can be interesting to look at if they bend in certain ways but has never thought it necessary to listen to one, who thinks that cars are the greatest thing in the universe because they're so damn loud, for whom the punchline of every joke is either a reference to a bodily function, sexual act, or sexual orientation, for whom Egypt (and possibly every nation which isn't theirs) consists of two guys on a camel, pointing at the pyramids and grunting. Not just children, but lowest common denominator. And it'll do spectacularly. And more films in this ilk will be made. And I will have to have a basement dug out under my house, simply so I can hang myself in it.

To make a mindless action film wrong, follow these instructions: make as many sub-plots as you can without developing anyone of them, present half-dimensional characters who exist either to stammer or flop all over the screen, scrape the absolute bottom of the Freidberg/Seltzer slush pile for comedy (which, amazingly, is somehow ALL bottom), create dialogue that somehow manages to swing between boring and excruciating, pad it out so that it's at least twice as long as it's meant to be whilst killing the pace stone dead, and general offend the viewer at every interval to the point where they can no longer indulge in the base pleasures of watching robots punch each other to pieces without wanting to tear their own eyes and fling them at the screen in a last, feeble protest, before - through sheer force of rage-born will - dragging their mangled body to Michael Bey's office and collapsing head-first into his lap, vomiting blood all over his legs, and limply wheezing a final plea of 'Whhhyyyyyy?' as they expire. Michael Bey took this simple pleasure away from me, and for that he deserves at least one eyeless corpse in the genitals. In fact, that sounds like the perfect way to rate this movie.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - One eyeless corpse in Michael Bey's lap out of five.

Is it entertaining? ...I would say no. Maybe for fans of monster trucks, but only if your preferred vantage point is from having your eyeballs stapled to the car door, obscuring any goings-on that aren't a shiny piece of metal.

Is it worth watching? No. No, I don't think so at all.

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